Insight Central Europe News

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Central Europeans challenge fellow EU members states over company regulations

Eight East and Central European members of the European Union are to challenge Germany, Austria and the Netherlands over regulations they say make it harder for them to legally set up companies in those countries. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia say the three countries are breaking EU law by demanding work permits for the companies' employees or preventing them from working altogether. A spokesman for the Czech Republic's mission to the EU said a letter is to be sent to the European Commission next week requesting action on the issue.

Polish Defence Minister to declassify Warsaw Pact documents

The Polish Defence Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, said on Friday that he would sign an order to declassify the country's archives on the Warsaw Pact. The documents, which will be handed over to historians at the National Remembrance Institute, will contain information on the Warsaw Pact's 'secret charter', the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, as well as the institution of martial law in Poland in 1981. Signed in the Polish capital fifty years ago, the Warsaw Pact grouped Moscow and its satellite states of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania into a military alliance to counter the perceived threat of NATO.

Slovakia rejects calls from Germany to give less money to low-tax countries

The Slovak Finance Ministry has rejected a part of the policy programme of Germany's new coalition government, which says that countries with low tax rates should receive less support from EU structural funds. Slovak daily SME, quotes Finance Minister Peter Papanek as saying that Bratislava will not support a European budget proposal that takes the German government's demands into consideration.

Ireland's Bertie Ahern visits Hungary

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Ireland's Prime Minister, visited Hungary this week to promote trade links and launch the Irish Hungarian Business Circle in Budapest, which is to promote business relations between the two countries. Issues on the agenda of the EU, such as the future funding of the Common Agriculture Policy and negotiations on the EU budget, dominated talks between Mr Ahern and his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Gyurcsany.

Greenpeace warns against carp consumption in Central Europe

The environmental group, Greenpeace, has warned of worryingly high levels of a man-made chemical compound in carp that is bought in Austria, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The effects of the compound, phthalate, may not be clear but it is believed to affect the male sexual development, cause infertility, and has also been linked to liver damage, Greenpeace says. Laboratory tests showed that carp from various stores in the Central European countries contained different types of phthalates in quantities far exceeding the detection limits. The fresh water fish is a traditional Christmas and New Year's dish in the region.